Yesterday, I wrote about the Corporal Works of Mercy. I am trying to determine the best course of action, as this year’s Extraordinary Year of Mercy works its way to a close, to achieve a couple components of the Corporal Works of Mercy. Yet, I would be missing a major component of the Year of Mercy, if I also didn’t spend some time reflecting on the Spiritual Works of Mercy.
The Spiritual Works of Mercy are: to instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful; to admonish sinners; to bear wrongs patiently; to forgive offenses willingly; to comfort the afflicted; to pray for the living and the dead. Like the Corporal Works of Mercy, some of the Spiritual Works are easier to achieve than others.
I run into difficulty when thinking of the Spiritual Works of Mercy that deal with discussing spiritual matters with others. My role as a faith study leader and pseudo-evangelist means I have a tendency to bring spiritual discussions into every conversation I have with others; however, I don’t do well with “admonishing sinners,” or “instructing the ignorant.” Those are two pretty tall orders, which can be exceedingly uncomfortable, and ones in which I feel I open my mouth, and insert my foot, more often than not.
In doing a Google search of “Saint quotes about the spiritual works of mercy,” I didn’t come up with a lot of hits. I was looking in particular for a cute picture to accompany this article, but I was surprised at a lack of quotes. Saints have written extensively on these particular aspects of life – often meeting the components of what I find are the more difficult Spiritual Works. They weren’t afraid to tell their peers, or their readers, their interpretation of God’s goodness and mercy. They also didn’t shy away from reminding people that, in order to receive God’s mercy, one must work for His mercy.
Perhaps that is the lesson I can learn from the saints, as I tackle pondering the Spiritual Works of Mercy – instead of focusing on each individual component, I should instead focus on the end result.
For me, the end result is achieving God’s mercy. Therefore, I should focus on the works I do, found in the list of the Corporal Works of Mercy, to lead me to being a more faithful follower of Christ, which will hopefully lead me to the reward of God’s mercy.